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Acknowledging Minnesota's unemployment rate and its yawning $6.2 billion deficit Wednesday, Gov. Mark Dayton picked a construction company director and a public relations executive to lead the state's job creation team.
Dayton, a DFLer, appointed Mark Phillips to lead the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and named Kathy Tunheim his senior adviser for job creation.
"The solution to these chronic budget deficits are more jobs," Dayton said.
With Phillips' appointment, Dayton has seven cabinet members left to name.
Although Phillips will leave the private sector -- he had been the director of business development for Kraus-Anderson Construction -- he is versed in the ways of government, too. He serves on the Oakdale economic development commission and was the economic development director at the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board under former Gov. Rudy Perpich. Dayton was also a Perpich appointee, serving as head of the agency that became DEED.
Tunheim, founder of Tunheim Partners and president of IPREX Worldwide, is a public relations executive and will spend about a quarter of her time as an unpaid Dayton adviser. She will spend the rest of her time leading the Tunheim firm.
During the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Independence Party candidate Tom Horner, a public relations executive at Himle-Horner, refused to divulge his full client lists. Horner eventually divorced himself from the firm.
Tunheim is taking a different tack. While she said she did not believe there would be conflict between the Dayton administration position and her agency's work, she said she would divulge the firm's clients.
The firm lists major clients on its website and updated the list Wednesday with a full accounting of their 2010-2011 clients.
Those clients include local, regional and state agencies. The firm has worked for the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the University of Minnesota and the state Department of Health. It has also worked with organizations that lobby the government including the Minnesota Twins, Target Corp. and Clearway Minnesota. Tunheim does not lobby.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger • 651-292-0164